Mavs Monday Donuts: Meet 'The Step-Ups'
Not a good start to the Dallas Mavericks' day on Sunday, with the determination that just as they are getting through Rajon Rondo's broken face, Tyson's ankle problem and Monta's hip woes, Chandler Parsons has a left ankle sprain and bone bruise and expected to miss at least three Mavericks games.
Said coach Rick Carlisle: "We’ll just evaluate him after we get back from that (Wednesday game in Atlanta) and see where he is.''
The forward was injured in Friday's win over the Rockets and on Sunday watched the 92-81 Mavs' home win over Charlotte while on the bench wearing a protective boot.
The idea from Carlisle: A series of Mavs would need to "step up'' to fill the gap of the absence of CP, Dallas' big-money signee from last summer who is averaging 15.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for the Mavs.
First step-up candidate: Richard Jefferson.
Jefferson started in place of Chandler, and produced a series of moments that fortify Carlisle's security-blanket confidence in him ... and got RJ trending on social media.
The statistical collection of moments: His second double-double of the season as he finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The highlight: a monumental dunk that won't count.
Jefferson victimized Michael Kidd-Gilchrist here and maybe shocked the official, who whistled him for an offensive foul that the Mavs found "foul'' as well.
Carlisle said the call "piss(ed)'' off the Mavs, but chose to focus on good news. "Richard Jefferson goes hard,'' he said. "When he’s on the floor, you know he’s out there. He’s combative on defense and he’s aggressive on offense.''
Said Jefferson, 34: “I don’t want to make a big deal out of it. I’m an old man. It happens every now and then. You get lucky once in a while.”
Another step-up from another veteran, this one a newcomer making his debut: Amare Stoudemire sat out two games after signing his post-buyout free-agent contract with Dallas but the wait was worth it. Stoudemire played 11 minutes and scored 14 points, looking springy at the rim (with a trio of dunks) and looking like a master of the pick-and-roll.
“I felt a little winded at the end of the first quarter, but other than that I felt good,” said Stoudemire, who was 5-of-8 from the field and also grabbed three rebounds playing as the backup big. “I think when you’re playing with good basketball players the game becomes easy.''
“It’s pretty clear the guy knows how to play the game,'' Carlisle said. "He’s got a lot of skill, and he still got a lot of juice.”
The sellout crowd at the AAC agreed. Stoudemire received a standing ovation when he entered the game for the first time with 5:26 remaining in the opening quarter and the applause just kept on coming.
Here's Skinnyfresh with Amare:
"It was exciting,'' Amare said. "The fans were very joyful. It gave me a lot of energy."
Before we get too far into the step-up helpers, a word about Monta Ellis, who continues to cement his rep (in the minds of MFFLs, anyway) as a closer.
The Mavs don't get this victory, their second in a row on this three-game homestand as they move to 38-20 (good for a virtual fifth-place tie in the West) without Monta turning on the late jets. Ellis scored 15 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, squashing a Hornets rally that saw them close what had been a 17-point deficit to 75-68. In the final seven minutes of the game, Ellis scored 15 of Dallas' final 17 points.
“We were stuck in the mud there,” Carlisle said. “We were having trouble scoring.''
And Ellis himself was stuck in the mud himself, too -- and again, I stress, part of this is that hip injury that he's playing through. But ... well, he played through it just fine over the course of 48.
“Monta had a frustrating first three quarters, but he stayed with it and he found something that got us a little bit of traction. He put the ball in the basket four or five times in a row and that got the game sealed for us.”
Added Dirk: ''He's our closer. We definitely needed something.''
Tyson Chandler was 6-for-6 from the floor for 12 points. He was 7-for-7 when the Mavericks won in Charlotte in mid-November. Meanwhile, while Al Jefferson grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds for Charlotte, he scored only eight points on 4-for-16 shooting.
The Mavericks found a way to avoid putting Dirk back into the game late, and also found a way to create a statistical oddity: For the first time this season, Nowitzki had more rebounds (12) than points (eight).
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"He was great. He gave us exactly what I thought he would. Some scoring off the bench, some catching and finishing in the paint. He's got a big body, good rebounder ... So I thought he was great.'' -- Dirk on Amare.
Your Mavs Apple Moving DFW "Move Of The Day''?
It's about banter. Playfulness. And ultimately, chemistry.
None of this works -- none of it -- if Rondo isn't accepted when he comes here, if Amare isn't accepted when he comes here. These moves can't be made in "Fantasy Football'' style. They have to be studied and researched and they have to be accepted by the other guys in the room.
Now, listen to Amare talking about RJ's dunk: "I dunked on him like that years ago."
And listen to RJ talking about being in the same starting lineup with birthday guy Rondo: “I was joking with Rajon today, and he looked at my funny when coach said I was starting. ... I let him have his little birthday moment, he just told me not to hurt him. We were starting again, last time we started, we were in Orlando, and I happened to break his face. I’m glad we were both able to get through the game, him with his face intact and me without bruising my thigh.”
And one more from Amare, on being on Dirk's team: “It’s great, it’s a lot of fun. Dirk is fun guy, he’s a great leader. It’s fun being a part of the Mavs.”
Again, teams can't make these moves on paper. They have to make them in ways that work not only on the floor but also in the locker room, on the team plane, in the team hotel. ... all of which allows me to segue seamlessly into telling you what when it's time to make your move, call Apple Moving DFW, the very best in the business. And tell 'em DB.com sent you!
Holger Geschwindner is Dirk Nowitzki's guy. But if a Mavs teammate needs a tip? The German guru is available -- and Rondo recently took advantage.
I think it's premature to suggest that Rondo's shooting since the All-Star Break work he did with Holger is hard evidence of anything -- though in the last two games Rondo is 10-of-17 with 21 points. But it's a start. ... and a wise admission to needing help.
“Holger is a brilliant guy when it comes to shooting,” Carlisle said. “I don’t know if there’s anybody on the whole planet I would recommend more than him with that.”
Carlisle was asked before the game about reserve forward Charlie Villanueva's "green light'' to shoot from afar.
The coach responded that Charlie V's license means he has a “bright blue” light.
I don't even know what that means ... but I'm going to continue to think it's a tad excessive.
Over the four games entering Sunday, Villanueva averaged 14.5 points and shot 20-of-33, including 12-of-18 shots from three. So, blue light?
Ah, but on Sunday he was 1-of-4 from the arc and 2-of-7 overall for six points.
“He’s a microwave kind of guy,” Carlisle said. “That’s one of the really great things about him — he comes in and hits a shot cold. He’s worked extremely hard this year on his shooting. He’s always a guy that could shoot, but he’s really worked at his consistency this year and its showing up in the games.”
I suppose there is a psychology here; Carlisle doesn't want to suddenly put up a red "stop'' sign. But why isn't "green'' enough? What does "blue'' get the Mavs?
"Absolutely. ... We've got all the right personnel, a great coaching staff ... I think all of the intangibles are here." - Amare, on if he thinks the Mavericks can compete for a title.''
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